The Braves are set to face the Reds in Cincinnati this week. It has not been long since the last time these two teams met, but some very dark and terrible things have happened since. The Braves played a series against the Nationals that was foreboding in its horrors. We know now that this Atlanta team may not be satisfied with a simple losing season. Instead, they have shown themselves dispensed toward striving for maximum suffering at every opportunity. The Reds meanwhile have continued their own trek of spotty mediocrity and come to this series having taken a series against Pittsburgh and having lost one to the White Sox.
The Reds will lead off the series once again with Leake and DeSclafani. Leake dominated Atlanta in his first outing against them this year. Ever since his slightly shaky start at the beginning of the season, the righty has been increasingly excellent. Coming into tonight’s game, Leake has not given up a run in 16 straight innings. DeSclafani is no Mike Leake, though. And the Braves have a decent chance to take another game from him this time around. The Reds game 3 starter has not been officially announced as of the writing of this post, but all signs point to Cuban right-hander Raisel Iglesias getting his second MLB start. Iglesias went just 5 innings in his first start, but performed just fine for a debut. Watch for a bevy of four seamers and sliders to induce a multitude of popups from Atlanta.
Atlanta will counter with Miller, Foltynewicz, and Stults. Miller has shown himself to be the most effective pitcher in the Braves rotation thus far and Folty has been impressive in his debut, which came earlier than many expected. Stults remains fine. Each of these pitchers is capable of keeping the Braves in the game. Especially since the offense has continued to make its very strange and unexpected noise. But the real question will be whether or not Atlanta can hold on to any potential leads or close games in the late innings. The bullpen has been atrocious recently. The Braves relief corps has the 4th worst ERA in the majors (4.76) and the 2nd worst FIP (4.66). They have been directly responsible for a number of recent heartbreaking losses. For this series to be any less miserable than the few before, the pen will have to step things up or the starters will need to take them out of the picture.
There’s no indication either of those things will happen, of course. But maybe Braves fans can cling to that uh–what is it again? Oh right, that “hope” thing, yeah. Maybe there’s hope that things will improve.